Birds of a Feather
Book One: First Flight

by Nethilia

Author's Notes: Good God, this chapter took me forever. Stupid classes and job. Oh well.

I created all the Wizarding birthday traditions. I also go on the theory that the cutoff date is September 1, and that Hermione is one of the oldest and Harry is one of the youngest. Hence Carolina turns 12, not 11. Hey, it happened to me—I was born in October and so was one of the oldest in my class.

Thanks a lot to Haggridd and Madhuri! You're a lot of the reason this fic is a sucess, you know, and I'm grateful.

*~*~*

Chapter 6
Halloween, Secrets, Classroom Charms

 

Antigone and Morag sat in the Library researching the Goblin Rebellion of 1345. Professor Binns had assigned them a half roll of parchment, but Antigone had done almost a full roll. It wasn't that Goblin rebellions were all that fascinating—Antigone thought that this one in particular was the epitome of boring—but she was extremely eager to prove her magical ability ever since she had come back from her weekend at home. The weather had turned cool as Halloween approached, and so she had found it necessary to bring her cloak when leaving the warmth of the Library to head out to Herbology class or to flying lessons. It was about a week before Halloween. Lawrence had told her all about the grand feast held annually in celebration in the evening. Antigone couldn't wait—she'd never before been allowed to do anything on Halloween night.

"Are you finished yet?" Morag tapped Antigone on the arm. "I’m ready to go back to the common room. I think we’ve done more than enough—and I can only take so much of writing about goblins and trolls and the like."

Antigone looked over her parchment, written in tight cursive. She had gotten very good with a quill. "Okay, that does it." She rolled out her parchment. "Do you think it’s long enough?"

"More than enough. You have almost a full roll, and you write much smaller than I. Did you look up extra things?"

Antigone nodded. "There were some things in another book here that I looked up the other day."

"You really like researching beyond the given topic, donít you?"

"Yes. I don’t know if Professor Binns gives extra credit, though."

"True, with him being a ghost and all. Well, anyways, letís head back."

As Antigone and Morag were gathering their things, they saw three of the First Year Slytherins walk in. Antigone gulped silently; she hadn’t had a decent encounter with a Slytherin since the Sorting. Morag scowled, stuffing his rolls into his tote. "Let’s just go," he hissed, taking Antigone’s hand. "I don’t feel like confronting them."

Antigone nodded, grabbing her backpack. Just as they were walking past, there was a whispered, "Diffindo!", and Antigone suddenly felt her backpack become significantly lighter. She turned to see that the bottom of her backpack had ripped open. All her things were scattered across the floor—quills, textbooks, parchments and broken inkwells. She felt her eyes start to water as she scrambled to pick up her things.

The Slytherins burst into laughter. Moira Ryans, a girl with long blonde hair and cold blue eyes, leaned over and hissed, "Is the little mudblood’s bag in need of repair? Muggle-made things are never as good as honest wizarding things—children included."

Morag’s hands shot out, shoving Moira backwards and onto the floor. Moira shrieked and fell onto a big girl whose face strongly resembled a pug dog. "Millicent!" Moira complained loudly, "that—that brat shoved me!"

Millicent scowled, looking at Morag murderously. "Keep your dirty hands off her, MacDougal."

"Keep your spells to yourself and I won’t have a reason to."

"MacDougal's your surname, is it?" Alph Kamain smiled evilly, cutting in. "MacDougal…I know that family. I always wondered why you were Sorted into such a low-bred house as Ravenclaw-- oh, that's right! Muggle mother. My family remembers when that scandal happened. I should think the entire MacDougal clan would be embarrassed to find out that the offspring of their once-adored oldest son and heir is not only a mere Ravenclaw but also a protector of clumsy little Mudbloods…"

"Keep your comments about Antigone and me to yourself," Morag thundered. "No one with an ounce of self-respect would be a Slytherin, regardless of family."

"Quite the opposite, Morag," Alph snarled back. "No one with an ounce of self-respect for their family’s long-standing wizarding name would be in any other house. At least I’m not a dirty little half-blood like you."

Morag took that moment to sock Alph. Antigone gasped as Alph staggered under the blow, spitting blood. Morag didn’t have time to say or do another thing before Madame Pince came tearing around the corner a second later.

"I can’t believe it! Fighting! In my library! I won’t have it! Twenty points from Ravenclaw and Slytherin! And detentions for all five of you!"

Antigone blinked, shocked. Detention? But...but I didn’t do anything…

"They started it!" Moira snapped. "He shoved me!"

"You started it when you made Antigone’s bag rip open, you swotty little bit--"

"Another five from each for your smart attitudes, Miss Ryans and Master MacDougal," Madame Pince snapped, cutting Morag off. "All of you, report here immediately tomorrow night at nine." She walked off in a huff.

Alph closed his eyes halfway in anger, then kicked Antigone’s inkwell over her History of Magic essay just before she reached to pick it up. "Whoops," he said coldly, and Antigone looked in horror as her History of Magic essay, the one on which she had worked so hard, was splattered with dark blue ink, completely obliterating it. Antigone bit her lip to fight back her tears as she stared in shock at the ruined essay. I won't let them see me cry...They won't see me cry... The Slytherins walked off towards the back of the library as Antigone sat there, blinking back tears.

Morag leaned over and picked up the dripping essay. "Bastards."

Antigone sniffled. "I worked so hard on it." Now that the Slytherins were gone, Antigone let her tears fall down her cheeks silently. It was the first time in a very long while that she could remember crying in the presence of anyone but her mother. She hadn't wanted to cry in front of Morag, but she felt so helpless. "I’ve got a detention, and lost points for Ravenclaw, and I didn’t do anything to them to deserve that…"

Morag looked distressed at Antigone’s tears. "Don’t cry, Antigone. I’m sorry I got you in trouble." He pulled out a handkerchief and let her start to wipe away her tears. "There’s bound to be a way to repair it…I hope it’s not completely ruined...let’s go talk to Lawrence, he might know something." He picked up the last of her things and helped her to her feet.

Antigone sniffled as they walked towards Ravenclaw Corners. "I hope so. Um, Morag?"

"Yes?"

"What was it that Alph said about your family?"

"Nothing important."

"But it made you so angry."

"I’ll tell you later." Morag’s tone, though not harsh, clearly said Drop it. "First of all, let’s get this cleaned up."

*~*~*

"Purgeo." Lawrence waved his wand over Antigoneís parchment while Morag and Antigone watched. The big blue stain faded, showing Antigoneís essay in repaired condition, her neat text still on the page except where the ink had hit. There were blank spots here and there, and a central part of the essay was no longer there. "A very useful spell," he added as he handed the essay back to Antigone. "It makes unwanted blots on your writing go away as well as unwanted ink spills. I’m sorry that I can’t make just the unwanted ink go away, but this makes it so you don’t have to use new parchment."

Antigone smiled gratefully, holding up the repaired essay. "Thank you," she whispered softly. Morag nodded his thanks as well, glad to see that Lawrence had been able to help somewhat.

"No trouble at all. I’ll have to teach it to you, it’s not too hard and very useful. It just takes a lot of practice to make sure that the ink you want to stay stays and what you want to go goes." He gathered his things. "I would stay but I’ve got Quidditch practice. Take care." Lawrence rushed out, his broom over his shoulder.

Antigone carefully rolled up her parchment and headed to her dorm in search of a new bottle of ink and some thread to see if she could sew the ripped seam of her backpack together. Morag slumped into a chair and sighed loudly. He felt bad about what had happened in the Library tonight. His temper had caused Antigone to get a detention too. It wasn't that he minded getting detention, but Morag didn't intend to get Antigone wrapped up in it. He was surprised that he had gone so long without one, with all the things he had said to the Slytherins. This was the first time he had hit one, however. At least it was Madame Pince who found us and not Professor Snape. The Potions master would probably have let the Slytherins slide and punished Tig and me even more. To think, my father was from the same house as those slimy, rotten ...

Padma, who was finishing up her Herbology essay, went over to sit by him. "Morag, what’s upsetting you?" she asked as she set her parchment down.

"Oh, it’s nothing too important." I hope she doesn’t ask for clarification. "Where’s Carolina?"

"In the owlery, sending Nike off with a note to her father."

"No one notices an owl flying into a Muggle house?" Morag raised an eyebrow skeptically.

"Oh, normally Muggle parents donít get direct owls. They have to send their owls to the Magical Owl Post Office in London, where there are wizards and witches who accept the owls and direct the letters to their addresses. I believe that the Muggle parents also send their mail there so it can get to their children. But Carolina’s father lives on the moors, like she said, and no one notices her sending him owls."

"Where’d you learn all that?"

"Reading Hogwarts, a History. Mother and Father own a copy." Padma looked at Morag. "Now, spill. What’s really on your mind? You’ve looked upset since you and Antigone came in from the library with her ruined essay and ripped bag."

"Just that I slugged a Slytherin and got me and Antigone detention." And heard nasty things about my father and his family that make me doubt my own heritage, Morag wanted to add, but he kept that to himself.

Padma gasped. "What’d you slug one for? Did they tease Antigone about her bag breaking?"

"Antigone's bag didn't fall open by accident. One of the Slytherins jinxed it to bust. Then Alph—you know him, annoying little bugger with green eyes?"

"Yes, I know which one he is."

"He kicked a bottle of ink all over Antigone’s essay. On purpose."

Padma’s eyes thinned to slits in anger. "I’ve noticed that there’s a group of Slytherins always picking on Antigone—her and Carolina. It’s like they’re their targets—which is pretty unusual, because although the Slytherins are slimy little gits, they don’t target others like Alph does. They hate everyone equally. Even Draco Malfoy--Merlin's beard! You should hear what Parvati has to say about him and Harry Potter being at odds with each other!"

"What sort of things about Harry? The last I heard was that stunt that got him on the Quidditch team."

"Oh, idle girl gossip. Nothing more fascinating than his little achievements in class and rule breaking. But I digress. Even Draco, with his insufferable attitude, is an equal opportunity pain in the arse. Alph does seem to be targeting. He and that blonde girl-- Moira Ryans, yes?"

"Yeah, she was the one who started it. This time another girl was with them—a big ugly beast of a girl named Millicent."

"Oh, I wouldn’t worry about her. That girl’s as bright as a Nox charm in the Forbidden Forest on a new moon at midnight. Now Moira and Alph…I would watch out for them. They’re real jerks, and smart besides."

Morag nodded. "I need to study Astronomy for awhile. Antigone and I will be tied up tomorrow night as well. I hate to seem as if I’m brushing you off, but…"

"Surely, Morag, I'll let you go. I need to get started on the First-Year's Wall anyway, and then I should owl my mother." Morag propped his copy of The Ways of the Heavens on his lap and started to read—it was not a textbook, but he wanted to raise his grades in Astronomy a bit. As he read, the thoughts of Alph and his comments faded in the blur of constellations and star charts.

He was about halfway through the chapter when a thought popped into his head. Aunt Opaline was once a MacDougal. There’s so much she would know about the MacDougals. I should have asked her first. He leapt to his feet, not even noticing that his book had hit the floor, and took off for the owlery.

~*~*~

Carolina had to jump back as Morag came tearing out of Ravenclaw Corners. She didn’t even get a second to flag him down and ask where he was going before he was gone in a rush of black robes. My goodness! Where is he headed? I wonder if I should follow…no, I won’t. She shrugged and walked into Ravenclaw Corners.

Antigone was carefully editing what looked like her History of Magic essay, while Padma was helping the other First-Years with their personalized wall. At the moment it didn't look like much. After lengthy discussion, they all had finally agreed on a deep blue velvety background, and they had just started putting it up. Carolina had offered to contribute her photographs to the project, even though some of them were plain Muggle snapshots which didn't move like the collections of wizarding photos a lot of the other students had.

 She sat down and had just pulled out her Herbology notes for a quick read-over and recopying, when she noticed that Antigone wasn't just editing her essay after all; she was reconstructing what appeared to be a big blank spot in the center of her parchment. "What happened to your essay, Antigone?" Carolina asked, blinking. "You were halfway down the roll before you and Morag went to the library."

"It has to be rewritten because of something that happened in the library."

"What exactly?"

"Alph Kamain purposely knocked my inkwell all over it after we got detentions."

"Detention! Antigone, what did you deserve a detention for?"

"Well, it started with me, because my backpack ripped open—Moira Ryans jinxed it to rip open, actually— then she and Morag started fighting, then Alph said something that upset Morag, so Morag slugged Alph just as Madame Pince came around the corner and took twenty points from Ravenclaw and Slytherin and gave all five of us detention." Carolina noted that Antigone was rambling, eyes fixed on the table, but she didn't say anything. "So I have to spend tomorrow night in the Library. Nine o'clock."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Tig. Say! Cheer up, it's only a week till my birthday."

Antigone looked up from her essay. "A week? Tomorrow’s a week to Halloween."

Carolina nodded. "Yup, I was born on Halloween."

"Carolina, you didn’t tell any of us your birthday was coming!" Oliver spoke up from his position near the floor where he was helping to tack down the background. "And on Halloween too, what luck!"

Carolina blushed a bit. "I didn’t think it was that important, with the Halloween feast and all."

"Birthdays are always important!" Lisa grinned, letting go of the part she was holding against the wall and letting it fall on top of Terry’s head. "Plus, you get to have a feast on your birthday! You’ll be turning twelve, yes?"

"Yes. It’s my first birthday away from my father actually. I was owling him to see if he wanted to send me a birthday present through owl post."

"As long as it's not a Nimbus 2000." Padma teased. Padma had become the involuntary gossip reporter from Gryffindor because her twin Parvati was always meeting with her to talk about something. When she told them about the Nimbus 2000, the newest and fastest racing broom on the market, she had received looks of absolute envy from Joseph and Terry. Terry mentioned that even his brother David, who was a Beater on the main House team, didn't have a broom as classy as a Nimbus. Carolina grinned, remembering when the six screech owls had flown in carrying a long thin package, and scared half the Gryffindors.

"It won’t be a Nimbus anything, I don’t like flying too much."

"Either way, we’re going to have to plan you a great big party during the feast. I wonder if we can get a cake for you," Padma said, grinning.

Carolina blushed. "Well, if you insist…"

"Of course we do, Carolina! You’re one of us! We have to give you a proper wizarding birthday!" Lisa’s eyes lit up.

"Wizarding birthday?" Mandy said what Carolina was thinking. "What’s the difference?"

"You’ll see when we plan it. Trust me, you’ll like it. It’ll add a touch of surprise. And with Carolina being one of the oldest in our year, you’ll all know what to expect on your birthdays."

Carolina blinked, then grinned at the others. "Okay, if you say so."

*~*~*

Antigone and Morag silently headed towards the library for their detention. Antigone felt like she was going to be sick. She had heard of some of the detentions that had been given out so far. These detentions were not like those given out in her old Muggle school, where you sat around writing lines or the like. Here at Hogwarts, teachers put you to work. One student, a third year named Saraminta Fawcett, had accidentally transfigured a table leg into a rope, which caused a desk to come crashing down to the floor and scattered all the teacups that the students had been transfiguring into toads. It was a sight to see china toads hopping all around the room. For that transgression Professor McGonagall had made poor Saraminta sort papers in her office all night. Antigone hoped that detention at the Library would not be quite so bad. "I hope that we don’t have to do something horrible," she whispered.

Morag patted her hand as they walked along. "Come on, it's a library! What can they do, make us sort books for an hour or the like?"

The three Slytherins were already there, sulking under the glare of Madame Pince. Moira hissed "Mudblood," at Antigone as she walked past, but Morag didn’t react. He did tense up, Antigone noticed.

"Well! Now that you're all here, you can get to work." Madame Pince read from a list on parchment. "First, there are returned books to be sorted back on the proper shelves. Second, there is a broken bookcase that needs to be repaired." She pushed two carts of books towards the students. "You four split into pairs and start sorting. No magic. And if any of you even think about wandering into the Restricted Section, I’ll have you expelled and heading home on the Hogwarts Express before the sun rises." She glanced at Millicent. "Miss Bulstrode, you look more than big enough. You come with me to fix this case. And don’t think for a moment I won’t notice if you goof off, your four. Get to work."

Millicent glared daggers at Madame Pince as she followed. Morag and Antigone grabbed the nearest cart and quickly pushed it away. "By Merlin's wand, there's no way I'll work with one of those Slytherin brats," Morag hissed as he pushed the cart off. Antigone followed dutifully "See?" he added as they rounded the corner. "All we have to do is sort books. Not bad at all."

"I guess," Antigone said. "but we’re going to have to wander up and down all the aisles."

"Not if we do it right. See, we’re in the Astronomy section now, right?"

"Yes?"

"And we both know the layout of the Library as perfectly as we do Ravenclaw Corners, like the backs of our hands, right?"

Antigone nodded.

"So, if we first sort the books in their proper order, we can just run up and down the rows once. We'll be done in no time." Morag pulled all the books off the cart and started to spread them on a table. "Put all the books of the same topic together, then we’ll sort them into alphabetical order."

Together Antigone and Morag sorted the books. Antigone saw a few books that looked fascinating, and decided to remember where they were so that she could get them tomorrow. It took about twenty minutes to sort to sort the books by topic, then each took a stack of books to sort alphabetically. Afterwards they placed them back on the cart and started to place them in their sections.

"You’re right Morag, this is fast," Antigone said.

"Told you." He looked at one book’s title and his eyes furrowed. "I’ll have to check this out tomorrow," he whispered under his breath. He stuffed it on the shelf, but not before Antigone saw the title Families of the Dark Era. She blinked, then shook her head. Whatever it was, it was Morag’s business until he told her.

She looked at the book she was holding, which belonged in the Muggle Studies section, reading out the title. "As The Gods Make It: Magic in Muggle Religions." She gasped softly in surprise, almost dropping the book, then held it to her.

"That sounds interesting," Morag said, looking at the book Antigone was holding.

Antigone nodded vaguely. She wondered if Madame Pince would let her check out this book tonight. The Library was closed, of course, and she was supposed to be concentrating on her detention task rather than browsing the library to pick up some light reading, but surely Madame Pince would make a little exception. She tucked the book at the bottom of the cart and continued to sort books.

Finally Morag and she were done, a full ten minutes before their detention was supposed to be up. They headed to Madame Pince’s desk, where Millicent was standing and waiting on her fellow Slytherins.

"Done early?" Madame Pince asked, looking over her glasses. Antigone and Morag nodded. "Good. You may head to you dorm now."

"Madame Pince?" Antigone asked, her voice faltering as Morag headed towards the door.

"Yes?" Madame Pince turned her head.

"May I check this book out?" Antigone set As the Gods Make It on the counter. "I know I shouldn’t have been looking at the books personally, but this one’s really important."

"No, Miss Moon, you may not check out this book right now. The Library is closed."

Antigone sighed and looked at her feet. "Yes, Madame Pince." She held out her hand, prepared to put the book back where it belonged.

"I will hold the book and you may come take it out in the morning, however, but only because you and Master MacDougall sorted the books so efficiently. Don't expect this favor every time you get a detention."

The last thing I plan on is getting another detention. "Thank you, Madame Pince." she said, rushing out of the Library. When she and Morag had made it to Ravenclaw Corners, she was too tired to bother with anything else. She curled up under the covers and buried her head into her pillow. Shadow was much bigger than he was when she had gotten him, and he was asleep at the foot of the bed. She closed her eyes, wondering what the book she had picked out was truly about. It sounded extremely fascinating—almost as if it could help her with her problem. As she fell asleep, she decided that, if at all possible, she was going to try and take that book home so her mother could see it.

*~*~*

"…and so you have to take this Hogsmeade weekend and get things for Carolina’s birthday party," Padma said. She was sitting at a table with Lawrence, who was listening to her explain. Since there was a Hogsmeade weekend for the third years and up, Padma was asking Lawrence if he could pick up some things for Carolina’s birthday. "After all, this will be Carolina’s first Wizarding birthday, and she deserves to have the best birthday ever, right?"

Lawrence nodded. "No trouble. One of the best celebrations is a Wizarding birthday—that and Halloween. And with her having her birthday on Halloween, it’s twice the celebration. Sure. Sure. Saraminta and I can get everything you need."

"Thanks a lot, Lawrence." Padma placed the money gathered from the First Years. Everyone--except Carolina, of course-- had contributed money for Carolina's birthday. They had collected it when she wasn't around. Padma had decided to enlist Third-Year Lawrence to buy the things they needed at Hogsmeade. "This should be more than enough. You know what to get, don't you?"

"Yup. I’ll even put in an order at Honeydukes—they make wonderful birthday cakes. Do you know her favorite flavor?"

"Chocolate. Make it that thick rich gooey chocolate, the kind that oozes ‘cavities for the next year’. And lots of sweets."

"Good choice. Stuff from Zonko’s too?"

"Nothing too extreme."

"I know that. This is a birthday party, not April Fool's Day. I know, I'll see if there's a nice watch at Ticker's Timepieces for Carolina, and I'll get some butterbeer, of course. It shouldn't be too difficult to bring back into the school. A case and a half should be enough for all you first years, Cho, and myself. Saraminta, too—she’ll probably want to be involved."

"A case and a half? I'm not sure we have enough for that."

"I'll pay for the butterbeer myself. Consider that my contribution. I’ll even tell Saraminta no tricks." Lawrence scribbled everything on his sheet of parchment. "You know how she is—if you don’t tell her to behave herself, she won’t."

"Make sure you tell her." Padma reached into her pocket and pulled out ten Sickles and a small letter. "Can you buy this for my birthday gift to Carolina?"

Lawrence opened the note, then nodded as he closed it. "That shouldn’t be hard at all. Sure." He stuffed the money in his pocket.

"Please don't tell Carolina a thing, okay?"

"Certainly." Lawrence grinned. "Her first wizarding birthday ever—this should be a birthday Carolina will never forget."

*~*~*

Morag had been reading Families of the Dark Era continually since Friday-- between classes, mostly, though Professor Binns hadn't caught him reading it during History of Magic. In the past four days he hadn't come across anything worth mentioning. Today the Ravenclaws had Charms. Professor Flitwick announced that they were going to learn how to make things levitate. Morag made sure that he was paired with Carolina. Carolina had been having trouble in Charms—her brilliant performance in Transfiguration more than made up for it, but she was upset that she wasn’t doing much better.

Morag looked at the feather on the desk. "Remember," Professor Flitwick squeaked, "swish and flick. It’s a sharp snap of the wrist. And say your words properly, or you may end up with your ears turned into donkey’s ears, like Miss Harriet Farina."

"You do it," Morag said. "I tried the spell myself yesterday when I heard the Hufflepuffs had this class and I got it right." To demonstrate, he made the feather hover a few inches off the desk where Professor Flitwick couldn’t see and then set it back down.

Carolina bit her lip and looked at the feather on the desk. "Wingardium Leviosa!" she shouted, snapping her wrist. The feather lay there. She scowled and flicked again, and the feather sort of rolled over. "That’s not it," she scowled, looking at the feather.

"Hold on," Morag said, setting his wand down. He placed his hand on Carolina’s and then moved his hand in order to turn her wrist properly. "Make sure you make your pronunciation isn’t clipped. It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa. Say each part nice and clear."

With his hand guiding hers, Carolina moved her wrist back and forth until they got it right. They were briefly interrupted when Terry accidentally said "Wingardium Beviosa" and found his feather beating him around the face like an upset bird. Professor Flitwick had to end the charm himself, and Terry looked pretty silly with a feather smacking him in the face. Finally Morag moved his hand. "Now try it yourself."

Carolina rolled up her sleeves and flicked her wrist over her feather. "Wingardium Leviosa!" To both their surprise, the feather floated off the desk and towards the ceiling. the ceiling. It was not the first feather to levitate, of course—that belonged to Antigone, who was getting better and better at Charms with each passing day—but Carolina's face lit up at her success.

"Thank you, Morag!" she said, hugging him tightly."

Morag grinned, just as Professor Flitwick dismissed them. Together the First years headed to Herbology. Morag didn’t get another chance to read anything in Herbology, as they were studying Devil’s snare and he didn’t want to try and read in a dimmed greenhouse (Devil’s snare didn’t like light and so Professor Sprout had dimmed the greenhouses with a Nox Spell). It was at lunch when, to his surprise, a school owl swooped in and left a letter near his plate. Normally letters came in the morning. He shrugged and opened it. Inside was a note from his Aunt Opaline, very short and in tight handwriting.

I don’t know what it is you’re trying to discover about your father, but I am the wrong person to ask. I don’t want to hear or speak another thing about the MacDougals, living, dead or otherwise. I realize that you are curious but I must be firm. Do not ask me any more about your father's family, I will not reply.

--Aunt Opaline

Morag blinked, then balled up the parchment in anger. Well, that was a dead end. He was going to have to do all his learning alone then, or at least without any aid from his aunt—that is, unless he could make her tell him. After lunch was over, Morag dutifully went to History of Magic and propped his book on his desk. Professor Binns never noticed that he was reading something else in class.

It was about ten minutes into the class when he finally saw something that was on the MacDougals. Silently, he read. It was only a paragraph, but it piqued his curiosity.

"The MacDougals were one of the first families to turn against You-Know-Who. Though it was known that they were involved at the start of the Dark Era, they pulled out early when it seemed problematic. The eldest son, Geoffrey MacDougal (deceased) was one of the first in the family to rebel and abandon the ways of the MacDougals. He was soon followed by his sister Opaline and his brother Alexander. They were the only three to go against the clan formally. Though the MacDougals were never involved in some of the worst parts of the Dark Era—thereby keeping themselves out of Azkaban—they were nonetheless supportive of You-Know-Who’s policies against Muggles. The MacDougals are still a prominent wizarding family in current times."

Morag looked over the paragraph again shocked by the allegations on his family, then quickly scribbled down the name before looking at it again. Alexander MacDougal. I wonder what he has to say about my father—he was his brother. He decided to worry about it later—after all, tomorrow was Halloween, and not a time to worry about the problems in his family—corruption or not.

*~*~*

Padma woke to the delicious aroma of baking pumpkin wafting in from the hallway. She couldn’t wait for class to be over and the banquet to come that night. She had planned everything—Lawrence had gotten everything together and had hidden half of it in his dorm; Terry and Oliver had been so generous as to hide the rest. Honeydukes had delivered the cake yesterday, and Antigone had learned a useful charm and was going to make the cake icing flash different colors. Nothing could go wrong today.

The first thing she did that morning was wake up the other girls, and they all got dressed while Carolina slept. Then Padma shook Carolina gently. Carolina rose out of bed sleepily. "Yes, Padma?"

"Climb out of bed and pull on your robes." Padma waited patiently, then pulled out her wand. So did Lisa—they were the only two girls who knew the spell as they had had it performed on them year after year. She had learned the incantation from her mother, who did it every time the twins had a birthday. Together the girls touched Carolina on the head and whispered "Anniversaire Lumos." There was a soft glow of light that dissipated into a fine mist.

"The first blessing of a Wizarding birthday," Padma smiled. "The Birthday Glow."

Carolina twirled around. "What does it do?"

"Everyone will know it’s your birthday. The Glow is the giveaway. Even people who don't know you will see the Glow and recognize that today is your birthday. Remember a few weeks ago, when Hermione Granger was walking around with a soft glow in her hair? Parvati had cast a Birthday Glow on her. The more people do it, the stronger it is, but it can only be cast by persons of the same gender."

Carolina grinned. "Will it be obvious?"

"Not glaringly—Birthday Glows tend to center near the face and hair, so you’ll look like you’re walking around with a halo."

"Cool!" said Mandy. Antigone nodded.

"There's another charm," said Padma as they left the dorms, "but that's for tonight."

All day Padma watched as people came up to Carolina and wished her a happy birthday. None of the Slytherins did, of course, but everyone else did. Professor McGonagall even smiled a bit and wished her a happy birthday. Snape didn’t say "happy birthday"—that was expected—but he did grumble about the fact that yet another student insisted on prancing about in a halo. By the end of the day Padma could see that Carolina was beaming— and it wasn't merely the Birthday Glow.

As they headed to the Great Hall for the Halloween Feast, Parvati ran up to Padma. "Padma, Padma, did you hear what happened?"

"What?" Padma said, silently wondering why her sister was such a gossip.

"Hermione Granger is in the bathroom crying her eyes out. Apparently Ron Weasley and Harry Potter said something beastly about her—being too smart for her own good. Honestly, how’d she ever end up in Gryffindor? You would think she would have been a Ravenclaw with the rest of you."

Padma shrugged. "I don’t claim to know how the hat works."

"Anyways, I don’t even think she’s coming for the feast—Oh, is that the Birthday Glow?" she said, turning to Carolina. "You lucky girl! You get a school-wide feast on your birthday!" She grinned at Carolina just as they entered the Great Hall.

Thousands of live bats swooped over their heads, flickering the lights in the pumpkins scattered around the hall. As they sat at the table and the food appeared on their plates, Lawrence leaned over to Padma and said, "Should I go back in a few minutes and get Carolina’s cake?"

Padma was about to reply when Professor Quirrell tore into the Great hall in a panic, his turban askew. Silence hung over the hall as he reached Professor Dumbledore’s chair and gasped out, "Troll—in the dungeons—thought you ought to know," before hitting the ground in a dead faint.

*~*~*

Shrieks of panic flooded the Great Hall. Carolina’s heart jumped into her throat. What was a troll doing in the school? On Halloween? And of all days, on my birthday! Suddenly the air was punctured by loud purple firecrackers from the end of Professor Dumbledore’s wand. "Prefects, lead your Houses back to the dorms immediately!"

In a rush Carolina joined a group of Ravenclaws, grabbing Padma’s hand and dragging her off. Behind, she could hear Morag mumbling and Antigone's wracking sobs. As one pack, they all headed towards Ravenclaw Corners fast as they could, their prefect leading the way.

When they got into Ravenclaw Corners, they scrambled for seats around a table, breathing very heavily. Most of the Ravenclaws were already inside. The food that was supposed to be their feast was now laid out along one of the long tables. "A troll?" Cho gasped, looking disheveled. "How could a troll get inside?"

"Trolls aren’t supposed to come in?" Padma said, trying to catch her breath.

"They’re not supposed to be anywhere around Hogwarts!"

Carolina hiccoughed. "On my birthday, too." Tears started to roll down her cheeks. "Padma said that the best part of my birthday was going to be in the Great Hall during the feast, where all the Ravenclaws could see…"

"I’m sorry," Padma looked disappointed. "There were all sorts of things Lawrence and we all planned. The best part is the serving of the—"

"Birthday cake?" Lawrence spoke up. Carolina spun around to see Lawrence, grinning as he held a large chocolate birthday cake dripping with thick dark icing that flashed in different colors of blue and bronze. The Ravenclaw eagle on top flapped it wings and squawked softly as Lawrence set the cake down, and twelve blue candles graced the top of the cake in a neat circle, where Happy 12th Birthday Carolina was outlined in icing. "I know we couldn’t do it in the Great Hall, like we wanted," he said, sitting down. "But this is just as good. Good thing I left it in my dorm."

Carolina started blushing as Padma led her to a large blue chair in the center of the room, and everyone in Ravenclaw Corners started singing Happy Birthday. A few of the older students made large blue steamers and confetti burst from their wands that sprinkled over their heads.

Saraminta passed out the butterbeer she and Lawrence had gotten for the group, as the first years scrambled to their dorms and got the presents they had bought her. Antigone even shyly uncovered two presents she had carefully kept hidden, a large box from Carolina's father, and a smaller one from Esmerelda. Carolina didn’t want to be greedy and tear them open, but they insisted. She ended up with lots of bags of candies and sweets (and many bags of Every Flavor Beans) from most of the First Years. Her father had sent her a box of peppermints and a warm lavender sweater with a note saying that he didn’t want his little girl catching a cold in those drafty castle walls. Lawrence got her a wizard’s watch with stars twirling over the silver face, hands that kept perfectly accurate time, and soft chimes that rang every quarter hour. Morag had given her a large stuffed teddy bear (He shyly admitted he didn’t know what to get a girl for a present.) Antigone had given her a diary, and Esmerelda had given her a small jewelry box that could only be opened by Carolina. But the best gift she decided was a small golden pendant from Padma with a little owl that hooted if you touched its feathers. Padma blushed when Carolina hugged her tightly.

As the Ravenclaws dispersed to gather plates, and Cho handed Carolina the knife to slice her cake—and as Lawrence cast the "Anniversaire Confectiona" charm to create extra cupcakes for all the Ravenclaws to gorge themselves—Carolina looked at Padma. "What’s the other part of a Wizarding birthday?"

Padma snapped her fingers. "I almost forgot! The Birthday Charm!"

"Is that like the Birthday Glow?"

"Not quite. Stand up." Padma pulled out her wand as Carolina rose to her feet. "Okay, guys, pull out your wands." All the first years, Cho, and Lawrence pulled out their wands. "We’ve been practicing since we found out your birthday was today so that we could all get it right." Together they touched their wands to Carolina, and a warm glow filled her. She listened as they spoke together.

"May we always be here for you, Carolina. May you always find friends in our circle. May your birthday wishes and dreams come true, and may this birthday be the first of many wonderful wizarding birthdays. May you grow wiser and braver, and brighter over the year, and may happiness be with you always. Anniversaria!" This time a bright glow filled Carolina and she felt like she was being wrapped in a blanket and filled with warm cocoa. The spell didn’t dissipate like the Birthday Glow had, but instead settled inside her like it was being absorbed.

"What was that?" she whispered.

"The Birthday Charm," Cho said. "It takes everyone who cares about you because that is the focus of the charm. All of your friends wish the best for you, and you get to feel just how much we care about you in that instant. It fills you with that warmth."

Carolina grinned, almost blushing.

Chapter 7

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